Researching Louisiana legislative history can be a challenge, and the older the bill is, the less official documentation there is.
What’s in a legislative history?
A legislative history consists of the official sources which are produced as a bill is considered by the legislature. It can also include unofficial but still relevant documentation that can help determine legislative intent. These sources of information include:
- The Résumé, which numerically lists each act that passed in a given legislative session, along with a digest (brief description of the bill’s purpose) and the original House or Senate bill number.
- The Legislative Calendar, which provides a chronological history of each instrument. This includes dates of action, journal pages where actions are recorded, whether the instrument was amended in committee or on the floor, a vote tally, the act number, and the effective date.
- The House and Senate each keep their own separate Journals. The Journals are arranged chronologically by the days in which the legislature met while in session. The information contained within the Journals is arranged in the order in which action was taken on the House or Senate floor. If the action was the adoption of an amendment, the entry will provide the text of that amendment. If a vote on the floor of either house was a record vote, the entry will provide a roll call list with the vote of each member.
- Bill versions, beginning with the original bill (the first version introduced in either chamber), then the engrossed bill (the version the first chamber votes on), then reengrossed bill (the version the second chamber votes on), then enrolled bill (the final version, sent to the governor for signing), and finally, the act, which is the law.
- Committee meeting minutes, which provide information on who spoke in support or opposition to a bill, from both members of the legislature, including the bill’s sponsor(s) as well as members of the public. Minutes may include explanations from the speakers on why a bill is or is not necessary.
- Committee meeting and full chamber floor audio and video may also be available.
Other sources of information include reports from task forces and commissions, conference committee reports, fiscal and actuarial notes, veto messages by the governor, law review articles and other legal commentary, Louisiana State Law Institute minutes, and newspaper articles.
If you need help deciphering any of the legislative text, the state legislature's website offers a list of legislative abbreviations and a legislative glossary.